By Lauren Wolfson, editorial assistant
An ardent lover of the arts and a professional acapella singer, Cason Swindle left his dreams of running an opera company fully behind when he decided to join his father’s training company in Lafayette, La., in 2008. This was not an easy decision, but because he was third-generation oilfield, the move actually felt as natural as going home. “In a sense, it was kind of coming home to my family roots,” said Mr Swindle, who was recently named Executive Director of the Well Control Institute (WCI). “It was a little bit of following in familial footsteps.”
His passion for the arts had initially led him to complete a music degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1991, with a goal of pursuing a career in arts administration. However, he eventually went into commercial real estate, where he stayed for 16 years before realizing he was seeking something more fulfilling.
So in 2008, Mr Swindle joined his family’s company, Global Training & Environmental, where he helped to develop online safety courses for companies in the oil and gas industry.
It was through this work in training development that Mr Swindle connected with Frontier Drilling, a company he eventually joined in 2009 as a technical training adviser. During his time at Frontier, Mr Swindle managed its cyber-drilling simulator facility in Houston and helped to develop PATH, a competency assurance program to develop the company’s workforce.
A couple of years later, when Frontier was acquired by Noble, Mr Swindle transitioned to the new company with the goal of developing its virtual learning capabilities. As director of learning and development, he was given the task of developing the Noble NEXT Center. Launched last year, the facility features simulator and classroom training for multiple drilling techniques, well control, maintenance, major emergency management and more. “I love a good challenge, particularly a challenge where the vision of it has the potential for a significant, long lasting and very positive impact.”
During his time at Noble, Mr Swindle also contributed to the creation of a standardized competency development framework. “It was a time of a great need in transitioning from a purely compliance-driven training to one that was more robustly involved in competency development and competency assurance,” he said. “I’m proud of helping to elevate the role of learning and development with our operations teams around the world.”
Earlier this year, Mr Swindle was named executive director of the newly created WCI, a cross-industry initiative that will develop a single well control training and assessment standard for the global drilling industry. Although the institute is only just getting going, Mr Swindle said he’s already carved out three specific goals that he will work to accomplish this year. “One is to establish the Well Control Institute as the place where the drilling industry comes together to discuss well control challenges and issues,” he explained. “The second is to ensure that we are including all voices in the conversation,” which means reaching out to regulators, policymakers, other industry organizations, as well as all segments of the drilling industry, from operators to contractors to service companies to equipment manufacturers. “It is synthesizing what I’m hearing from around the world and around the industry into specific initiatives that the WCI governing bodies can review, discuss and determine the appropriate way forward.
“The third goal is integrating and launching the new well control training standard under WCI,” Mr Swindle explained. This aim is to ensure the WCI training standard is sufficient to ensure operational integrity and global reach. The standard will integrate IADC WellCAP with recommendations from a WellCAP advisory panel.
Although Mr Swindle has his work carved out for him, he believes that this effort is a valuable one that everyone in the industry should support, noting well control’s worldwide impact and the importance of improving the industry’s environmental stewardship. “Through effective well control, we can have a very positive impact, not only on the industry and its standing but on the communities in which we live and work.”
Click here to watch an exclusive video interview with Cason Swindle.
Click here to learn more about the Well Control Institute.
Click here to watch a video about the Noble NEXT Center.